Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 59: The One on Matrescence.

My Latest Score: The White Lace Blouse.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found this $84 lace and bow blouse (check out the back!) — it looks like Self Portrait and I’d assume it would cost well over $300!  (I’m wearing it above.) It keeps selling out and then coming back in select sizes at Revolve, but if you can’t track it down in your size, I also love this similar one from Sandro, this under-$100 style from Catherine Malandrino’s diffusion line, and this chic $60 style.  Also: this one, from H+M!

The Fashion Magpie Endless Rose White Blouse

You’re Sooooo Popular: A Perfect Summer Dress.

The most popular items on Le Blog this week:

+This chic and well-priced summer dress, which is worth snagging while the Shopbop promotion is still running!

+Perfect solution for organizing your medicine cabinet.

+These fun summer earrings — perfect for the Fourth!

+My shortcut to a great blowout at home.

+I am on my third pair of these wear-with-everything summer canvas sneakers.

+These simple leather slides go with everything and evoke the same timeless class as an Hermes Oran sandal.  (I like them in the black suede.)

+Affordable cashmere alert!  << These are FINALLY back in stock.

+Another variation on the white lace theme above.

#Turbothot: The Book that Taught Me What I Want to Teach My Daughter.

A startling headline, isn’t it?  It’s lifted from this essay by Belle Boggs in a two-year-old edition of The New Yorker, in which Boggs insists that the Italian author Natalya Ginzburg materially shaped her views on motherhood via her slim volume of essays, The Little Virtues.

I read the essay, ordered Ginzburg’s book, and then sat back in the upholstered chippendale chair that serves as my writing perch and wondered about it all.  I loved the image of Boggs diving into another woman’s essays and emerging with buried treasure: “Aha, I have it!  This is what has been missing from my version of motherhood!”  I marveled over the likeness of two mothers visiting with one another in spirit, in thought, on the urgent and tender business of matrescence*, and I asked myself the same question: What books have shaped my views on what it means to be a good mother, fraught as the phrase “good mother” is?

I pondered this question for some time, grasping at straws.  I began to scan the spines of books lining my wall.  The harder I thought about the provocation, the more fervently my thoughts would boomerang from the parade of book jackets to the real life mothers I aspire to be — my mother, my sister, my sister-in-law, my mother-in-law — a holy sorority of nurturing, invested, attentive moms from whom I have learned it all.  Well, them, principally, but also my friends Kaitlin and Whitney and Annie and Maura and Steph, who have intercepted more than their fair share of anxious or curious or victorious text messages on the minutiae of caring for an infant, and then, also, the many moms I have quietly observed in mommy and me classes, in Central Park, in the second-to-last pew of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church on W. 71st Street.

I will never forget the first Sunday I took minimagpie to Church with me back in Chicago.  It was one of my earliest solo voyages with her and I was rattled with new mom nerves and exhaustion.  As I neared the heavy, bulky Church door, I looked around in panic, realizing that there was no one to open it for me.  I began the awkward mom-with-oversized-stroller-in-a-narrow-doorway dance, propping the door with a foot as I jutted my hip out and attempted to swerve the stroller around alongside me.  A woman came jogging up behind me to help.

“It’s easier if you push your back against the door to hold it open, and then bring the stroller through,” she said, winking at me.  “One mom to another.”

I flushed — how dense was I, unable to understand the basic mechanics of holding open a door while wheeling my daughter through it? — and then immediately and deeply grateful to her, and for the long lineage of moms who had come before me.

I know that the mundane details of caring for and nurturing a baby — the “what do I do when…” and “how do I…” and, yes, the logistics of wheeling a stroller through a door —  aren’t quite what Boggs was referring to when she talked about what she learned from Ginzburg: she’s talking more broadly about instructing and raising a child, about mindfulness when it comes to how we discipline and praise and nurture our children, about intentionality as a parent.  But all the same, the line of inquiry led me to realize that while I rely principally on instinct when it comes to matters of motherhood, when I doubt myself, I copy the women around me.  Books have shaped how I feel about many things — they have in fact mediated many cherished life experiences — but my vision of motherhood is indivisible from the real world and from the real moms I know and respect.

What to make of this?

Am I forgetting or misremembering or willfully ignoring models of motherhood I’ve gleaned from books I’ve read?  What books have shaped your approach to parenting, whether literary or didactic in nature?

*A new-to-me term I’ve appropriated from — of all places — Goop.  Despite my diatribe against her self-involved, over-pathologized patois, this is a word I love: matrescence.  The process of becoming a mother.  (Similar to adolescence, or the process of coming into adulthood.)  What a beautiful concept!

#Shopaholic: A Happy Little Dress.

+Obsessed with Dagny’s New Arrivals, but especially this happy little dress!!!

+This heeled sandal is a dead-ringer for my go-to evening shoe in the summer, Alexandre Birman’s Clarita.  (Incidentally, you can find a Clarita in the prettiest shade of pink on SUPER SALE here.)

+I love the dramatic sleeve on this peekaboo sweater.

+Love this classic rainjacket for kiddos.

+The monkeys on this straw tote are too cute.

+Loving RRR’s new flamingo print!

+This went on sale and it’s taking all my willpower to resist its purchase…do I need it?  No.  But do I *need* it?  Yes.

+I have to say, I’m very impressed with the glass tupperware we ended up buying — it’s oven proof, microwave proof, and will not warp.

+I’m interrupting my planned reading list because, over drinks with girlfriends a few nights ago, I agreed to join a new book club, and this is first on the docket.

P.S.  Thank you for all the love on the M Series.  One of you wrote to tell me that “It’s like reading a good romance novel” — ahh!  Thank you.  It’s written with my heart on my sleeve.

P.P.S.  Some of you disagreed with my recent book reviews — and I encourage and look forward to debating them!  Please share your thoughts; I have learned a lot from your comments.

P.P.P.S.  I’ve been sending out secret Magpie miniposts via email (see below for example), usually featuring a single product I love or an epic bargain buy.  If you’re into it, sign up here!

The Fashion Magpie Secret Micropost


  1. Seems like my comment didn’t post…

    My favorite book on matrescence (new to me and hard to spell) is Great With Child: Letters to a young mother. It’s a collection of letters written by a professor to a former student who is pregnant but had lost her own mother a few months prior. Beautifully written and captures so many of the little moments that you only realize are moments once you’ve read about them.


    1. Hi Jessica! You know — a few people have recommended this book to me and now I think I have to read it. Thanks for reminding me of this; it sounds beautiful (and timely for mother’s day!) xoxo

  2. Not a mother yet, but I love when I’m reading and recognize a woman I know – mother or not – in literature. My mother, for example, has such qualities of Mrs. March (“Little Women” being a perennial favorite of mine); a beloved high school teacher and mentor had Marilla Cuthbert’s no-nonsense facade hiding a deep tenderness for her students…I could go on, but it would take all day. I think that moment of recognition creates such a satisfying synchronicity – what’s the saying, there’s no new thing under the sun?Of course, now literary mothers I would NOT want to be come to mind as well…such a fun thought exercise!

    I love that your pantheon of aspirational women and mothers is so deeply-rooted in the circle of women who have shaped you – what a testament to the women by whom you’re surrounded!

    1. That’s a really good point — there are elements to admire in so many literary heroines (and “supporting” characters, too), and it’s a bit narrow to just think about “books that deal with women becoming mothers,” because moms are everywhere in literature. Thank you! xoxo

  3. Matrescence — what a word! I love it.

    I don’t have much to say on this topic, not having children of my own, but I have heard from friends that Simplicity Parenting is a great book (I suppose it may not align with some visions of parenthood, but I think there’s something to be said for extolling the virtue of simplicity)

    Love that Dagny dress!

    1. Thank you!! Love that word, too. Earlier today, I acquired another new-to-me word (internecine) and rediscovered I word I’ve not used in a long while (hubris). I’ve got to find a way a use both. Expect to see them in upcoming posts haha! 🙂

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